Category Archives: humor


Trying to overpower the sound of a hovering helicopter through song, spouting Eastern European poetry during an intense “perogie” workout class and making sense out of the clues connected with an overdue library book ( 123 years overdue) are three of the highlights of the performances I’ve seen the last couple of days at the Fringe Festival in London, Ontario. This material is astounding and only a little sample of the range of inspired and creative work offered. Some of it may not be everybody’s cup of tea but it does make a refreshing change from the usual theatrical experience. Don’t get me wrong. I love the traditional, the classic and typical forms of theatre with all my heart and soul. This alternative offering is different, challenging and staged on a shoe string. It provides enough of a change of pace to alter the atmosphere of the different theatre venues somehow. An interesting observation is the overall audience dynamic. They are all ages, arty and comfortable with each other… is this acceptance….this vibe….that is truly worth the price of the entire showcase of performances.

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Early Summer Dream

A good fairy appears in my wild garden of perennials and quietly works. Pulling weeds, clipping shoots and branches, tidying up pots and planters, discovering lost garden tools and toting away (with permission!) wheelbarrows full of green compost to my neighbour’s bracken pile she has opened up my little yard again and made it more presentable, enjoyable and loveable. The neighbour is even more into natural gardening than I am and allows me to bring my green compost over to his wildlife sanctuary for the birds, rabbits, squirrels and skunks to shelter themselves in.

My garden is on a  rural village street that curves from the park to the main road of the village and serves as a walkway for many neighbours. Everyone walks here. Some of my neighbours have kids , many have visiting grandkids and sweet doggies that need the quiet, peaceful walkway that goes all along my property.

My garden, porch and sedentary bookish lifestyle is on full view and that is fine. However, the weeds and chaos of a jumbled garden can work against the creative vibe so I try to pull and yank weeds with the best of them so I can get back on task with my writing. I can do it but it is an unpleasant effort when it gets crazy ahead of me with weeds and long grass.

Now, the good fairy, home from university, majoring in history and human resources (clever fairy!) and living on a neighbouring farm with her family, flies in and out like a whisper to give me a hand. She has made my wild garden a little more trimmed and ready to burst out in its glory with seasonal appearances of white and pink hydrangea shrubs, blue morning glories trailing up an ivy wall on my little house, white and lilac Rose of Sharon bushes, ENORMOUS pink Himalayan orchids, leafy Boston ferns , a few wild red roses and a quaint trellis covered with rosy bittersweet.

She promises to fly in later in the early fall when she visits her farm family (to help show pigs, sheep and cattle at fall fairs) and come by again to work some gentle magic on the forsythia and lilac bushes that will need to be trimmed so that they can bloom beautifully in the spring. I will take advantage of her willingness to work and get her to dig lots of holes for tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.  Gently she has coaxed the old and established wild garden to reveal itself gracefully if not as eccentrically arranged as before. Now I can keep ahead of the weeds,  just water everything as needed, plant my annuals (bought on sale) creatively in an odd assortment of planters and just wander in the garden. Middle age fairy myself, I truly appreciate the help and can get back to writing, reading, going to artsy events and theatre.


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Staged Right

Reserved seating for the playwrights took up the entire front row of the historic theatre. A minimalist set of four chairs and four wooden crates made up the set. Professional lighting effects were simple and effective. Four talented actors performed with dignity, humour and unlimited energy. The director beamed as the afternoon of pure theatre went off without a hitch….well, one slight hitch in misreading the script. The improvisation skills of the actors saved the  day, as usual. All in all a very unique festival of playing with words of children, ages 8 to 13 and I was most pleased to be invited there as a guest.

During the presentations there were many magical talking trees, superheroes and ways to deal with schoolyard bullies. Some plays were about loss, abandonment and even grief. Many were flat-out, side-splitting hilarious such as the one about the third grade rap star and his rapper horse sidekick. (I know……the kid who thought this up is a genius!) And then there was the bird house play with its mounting tension and surprise ending…..( reminded me  just a little of the movie Fargo!), My favourite had to be the play about a wishing star, two headed snake and a walking candle. Talk about deep.

The Grand Theatre in London Ontario was the venue for this entertaining project, Word Play. Funds were raised , supporters were included, professional actors and directors worked with the kids and the audience simply loved it. Reactions from the audience at times overwhelmed the young playwrights but they all took their bows in turn. We all shared the great atmosphere, laughter and pride in these kids. Theatre really doesn’t get any better than this!


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Second Childhood

I did it again. Twice this winter I have eagerly anticipated a writer’s event so much that I have gone a week early. When I got to the correct destination but on the wrong night I considered what to do instead. I thought about hanging out in the coffee shop with the funky lights and decor, going shopping at the one store still open at that time of night in our small town, visit a friend or just go home.  I went home.

It may be that I’m not getting enough sleep. It may be that I have a couple of distracting projects underway. Most likely it was just another senior moment. Looking on the positive side, perhaps it is  an over eagerness to connect with local writers after all these years of putting my desire to write out of my life .Not only do I enjoy the conversation and ideas shared at these events but I get a huge kick out of the dynamics of interacting with creative and authentic characters like myself.

Reflecting back to the fork in the road about forty years ago I chose a tangled path to follow. Fortunately I managed to get my education and career on course despite the pitfalls as well as raise a wonderful son. However, along the way I was sidetracked from following my  dream of writing. With significant effort and resources the impediment to following my creative spirit was dealt with some time ago. However, other than a joyful period of drama training , teaching and performing I have ignored my childhood desire to write.

Some forty years later, the forgotten  artist child within has been acknowledged again, nourished and wants to play, darn it. She is quite stiff now but is enjoying going for thirty minute walks through the park again. Too old to play imagination games in the school yard she enthusiastically attends any theatrical performance she can. Books  surround her and continue to give quiet comfort. Unfortunately, she mixes up days and details despite writing things on post it notes and calendars. As a result she goes to writing group meetings a week early. Fortunately, she now has the sense to come straight home.


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Lights Turned Down Low

Without stopping to find my beret I dashed off to the poetry workshop in town. I happened upon the information at the last moment but as it was in the same venue as the recent writer’s workshop I had attended, I knew exactly what to expect. Wrong.

Sitting in on a poetry reading session prior to the poetry performance I was shown the ropes. The evening’s performer had provided a sample of her work to be analyzed by the group. A group facilitator serenely led this exercise. Immediately absorbed into the group I was fascinated with the personalities around the table. No doubt, I was under scrutiny as well.

When this experience came to its conclusion we went into the main event room and joined the group gathered there to be entertained. After a few predictable moments of listening to a couple of original poems we had also workshopped in the other room, a few contest details and a pleasant introduction of the performing poet artist , the overhead lights were shut off.  A trio of very muted lamps were turned on to set the mood. A séance/coffee house- like mood was achieved. No bongo drums were used but the artist at one point kept a beat by tapping her index finger on her microphone.

Sitting at the rear of the room my view of the petite performer was limited due to the size of the man sitting directly in front of me. I could have moved closer to the front but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself in the process so I spent the next couple of hours in the dark.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Instead of hearing the typical poetry I expected to hear I absorbed sound distortions, cringed when the artist checked her cell phone several times during her performance and watched the reactions of everyone in the room. At one point the artist forgot some stuff she intended to say and worked through it. Only one person walked out on her.

Her material was about animals, women and relationships. Her use of technology, sound manipulation of her own voice and references to her performance art experiences was beginning to get through to me. I sat in my dim corner behind a big guy and just appreciated the on the spot art happening in the room. My mind absorbed and opened a little further.


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Third Thursday of The Month

Driving through the rather unique section of the city with its quirky little shops, coffeehouses and older homes I found my way to the library holding the writers meeting. Downstairs in the building a couple of meeting rooms are available to the public for various events and meetings. A few people were there early with me and the room filled eventually. It wasn’t awkward, honest.

Not knowing a soul I merely spoke a few words initially to the folks on either side of me. The dynamics of the group was interesting to me as I am a retired teacher. It felt like being with any new class except that it was a mixed group of ages, artistic personalities and writing enthusiasts. A few rarely spoke but they continued to write industriously throughout the meeting. Dominant personalities emerged from time to time. Everything from crime historical fiction, fantasy,plays, children’s and young adult literature , short stories and poetry were discussed with glee. A leader emerged to suggest a writing prompt and we all wrote madly for a few minutes and shared these little gems openly.Another gave a presentation on plot and pacing further stirring the discussion pot quite nicely. Someone brought cookies to share and this inspired an impromptu revenge story. ( You had to have been there!) A select reading of a current novel was shared by one of the writers. Feedback for this writer was positive and freely given.

Recommended books were referenced around the table much to my delight. I appreciated the loosely structured plan for the meeting. Imagine about two dozen people of varying backgrounds gathering for two hours of listening, writing, sharing, critiquing and laughing in the right places. A unique and quirky evening  in an interesting part of the old town and right up my alley!


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Taking It On The Chin

The plan was to submit a couple of stories to a literary contest by a certain time line and I’m happy to say that I managed to do it! So now I wait about six months to find out how the contest turns out. At this point I’ll be happy to get the confirmation  that the stories  were received electronically safe and sound. I don’t really trust computers as I was recently hacked or whatever it is called. That is quite an annoying experience as you feel quite helpless in the  process and just have to start over again. A misunderstanding on a computer is a weird thing as you can’t go face to face with anyone and correct it. So, if you are reading this and need my new email address let me know.

Misunderstandings between people are also not much fun but at least you can stand up for yourself. Often someone in the background is jealous and has stirred things up and misled the parties involved. Sometimes it is purely unintentional and can be easily addressed. I find that these misunderstandings often can come right out of the blue and you just have to be prepared sometimes to just let it go. I am a quiet type so I can sometimes be a target for the more aggressive personality wanting to settle a score. I have learned not to overreact but it does still feel a little unnerving to be under attack when I for one, don’t go looking for trouble.

In my personal writing I consistently have dilemmas about not wanting to offend or upset anyone. This is partially due to my gentle nature but is also due to my training as a teacher. Whenever I had to face big situations in teaching such as calling in the authorities due to child abuse or dealing with an obnoxious colleague it was not easy. Through life, I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff but I will face unpleasant things when I have to deal with them. Some of the situations I’ve dealt with in my divorce long, long ago were like straightening out a very confused soap opera with a terrible plot. I’ve handled arrogant and decitful jerks when I much rather would have let someone else deal with them. I have drawn my line in the sand whenever faced with difficult situations. I just wish sometimes that it wouldn’t have to happen.

A sense of humour doesn’t hurt in life and thankfully I was blessed with one.


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Woodshed, Something Nasty!

Picture it!Late summer, very hot, an old, small house in a rural Ontario village, an attractive, traditionally built retired, female teacher  usually engaged in reading or theatre outings is dragging nasty old junk out of her woodshed. The pile is horrendous. The smell is musty. Possibly mice have lived in the stuff that is being turfed out the door. Dirt has piled up under heaps of old wood and shingles intended for the fireplace but never used. Cobwebs  drape themselves across the roof , windows and shed doorway. Crap, and I mean crap from at least twenty-five years accumulated , unloved.  Sweat pouring, hair clinging, legs swelling until finally it is all out and waiting for the junk truck guys. A few days pass. The weather forecast isn’t good. Rain, wind a local tornado transpire. The junk doesn’t budge an inch. Then, two strong young enough men arrive in a junk truck and pick it all up in minutes, drive away with it and it’s all taken care of, end of story.


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Pocketwatch Mystery

A few blogs back I was trying to be creative and productive so I assembled a few found antiques and pondered if they would inspire a story. After writing a dramatic structure I was satisfied to just leave it alone but wondering what reaction there would be to it. There have been three responses.

One blog response from a stranger who wondered what the heck I was writing but said she enjoyed reading my stuff so she would keep reading. Another response was from TBLN who knows me very well as I’m her maternal aunt. TBLN gave me some feedback on my creative effort as she really gets what I’m trying to do at this beginning point in my retired life as I pick up on a  childhood dream to write stories.  Finally a neighbour friend just told me with a big grin that she can’t wait to find out  why Evelyn , the interfering, palsied neighbour was tormented by the pocket watch…..Well, how the heck do I know?

Maybe it’s because…….

a) the pocket watch once belonged to the interfering neighbour (Evelyn) but she lost it to Melissa in a bet over who would win the best church pie contest  ……   OR

b) Evelyn had once treasured the watch as a gift from a suitor but he had a change of heart and taken the watch back, intending to woo Melissa with it as they both were great lovers of literature and poor Evelyn was more into horseshoeing  but he was hit with a bolt of lightning as he was preparing to present it to her and it was found in his seared clenched fist …..  OR

c) It could only mean one thing, …that Frieda was back in town and bared watching !  (Sorry.)


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It’s  three a.m. for crying out loud and here I am starting a new blog entry. During the month of July it gets hot around here and this throws off any semblance of a sleeping routine with me. I don’t do well in the heat so I snatch rest in the darkened, fan stirred livingroom  siesta style when I can. Often it is too hot to do much around the house until the sun starts to go down so that’s probably why I am still up doing dishes and laundry and blogging.

 I’m blogging in the tiny room off the kitchen as it is our only air-conditioned room in the house. It used to be a small garage years and years ago. I’ve painted it, added some cottage curtains, a sofa, recliner and tub chair, computer set up and television. The doorway doesn’t have a door on it as it opens into the entry way and kitchen. So the cool  air gets lost for the most part into the rest of the hot little house. I think I will try to block off the doorway somehow with a temporary sheet or something. Now, you don’t get decorating tips like that often do you?

Just before dusk I supervised my young neighbour as he cut my grass for me . I had trimmed a few bushes earlier.So my yard which is on a curved village street open to kindly neighbourly scrutiny looks quite presentable, thankyou.

I’ve read excerpts from my three new books today. The walking book is a nice gentle read and not bossy in its approach to suggesting healing walks. It’s got me moving despite the heat wave but only in little circuits of increased walking. I’d cite it for you but I’m too lazy to get out of the chair and check the title and author. I think it is called Healing Walks for Hard Times. Anyway. it’s good and I’ll refer to it later, in another blog, maybe. Wait till there is a snap in the air this fall and you will see my dust!

The two novels are quite unusual. One is funny and off beat to say the least. It’s called Jitterbug Perfume. I read only a chapter or two but laughed at the absurdity of it. The other novel is rather challenging and complicated with six narratives going on to just sit and read despite being beautifully written. Cloud Atlas is more of a cool day book when it is raining outside and you need a blanket on your knees. It’s too hot to read much of it today but I’ll carry on with it when I can.  A neighbour friend brought me a book last week called The White Bone and it is very different and epic in a Grapes of Wrath style but in this heat just reading it lulls me to sleep. It is the kind of book  to read when I need to be wearing  a wooly sweater and bed socks. Obviously my reading habits have something to do with the heat, hormone issues and my attention span.

 Supper tonight was a skillet affair as my oven is on the blink. Some dishes are still soaking and that’s fairly typical as we eat late and then I often bake even later (when the oven works). Most of the laundry is folded and some of it is put away. The cats are out wandering in the moonlight instead of being safely asleep inside the house.Things just seem to be out of sync but that’s perfectly okay.

 It’s the heat.


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